Staff from the Lambi Fund of Haiti met with representatives from 14 grassroots organizations on February 25, 2013 in Les Cayes, Haiti to receive an update on Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Following the immense flooding that led to widespread loss of crops and livestock, Lambi Fund mobilized to provide emergency relief grants to 14 affected organizations in Southern Haiti. These grants were used to help organization members that were the most adversely affected purchase new seeds, fertilizers and supplies to replant their crops. Funds were also used to repair irrigation canals and replace livestock that were lost in the storm.
Thanks to support from donors like you, Lambi Fund was able to swiftly provide partners with the resources they needed to recover. A member of the Women’s Organization of Jabwen explained that, “Following the storm, the peasant population thought we couldn’t stand up again - all was lost. Members were depressed and complaining about their circumstances. Everyone was wondering - what are we going to do? How will we move forward? The emergency funding gave the people a change to till our land and plant again. We worked together and plowed for other organizations and members in the community.”
Another recipient and member of the local organization AFDL shared that, “Before relief funding from Lambi Fund came, people weren’t sure when they could plant and harvest again. This was a major concern for everyone. The Lambi Fund of Haiti helped us till the land again…we have gardens again. The emergency relief was an opportunity for us. Hurricane Sandy came during planting season and we weren’t sure how we were going to repair the land. With Lambi Fund’s support, we re-tilled the land and planted again. Now we have corn, nuts, and black beans and harvesting has begun.”
Despite these successes, many organization members shared their struggles with the current drought. For most, it has not rained since the hurricane and this has made replanting and growing food near impossible. A member of Tet-Kole Bedo said, “We’re having a hurricane of sun now. The land is dry and hard – it is impossible to plant and difficult to grow feed for animal husbandry projects.” He continued on explaining, “In January everyone was ready to plant, but there was no rain. So we wait. We keep waiting for the rain to come.”
It is external circumstances like these that make farming in Haiti difficult. The environment and increasing unpredictability of precipitation leave impoverished farmers at the mercy of the land. Given these realities, Lambi Fund is working with organizations on capacity building so that they can work to address these vulnerabilities (through irrigation canals and mobile water pumps, for example). When organizations begin advocating and petitioning the government for policies that will benefit the community, it is then that key concerns begin to be resolved.
A member of OFJ explained the value of organizing best when she said, “At first, our husbands would always ask, ‘Why are you part of that organization? It takes up too much time.’ Then we received assistance from the Lambi Fund of Haiti [for goat breeding efforts] and they began to see our projects and the impact. Now our husbands will ask – ‘What are you doing home? Go to your meeting!’ They see the value of our work and want to be organized too.”
In this line of work, you are bound to encounter setbacks from time to time. Now is one of those occasions. As you may very well be aware, Hurricane Sandy swept through the Caribbean and Eastern Coast of the United States in late October. Severe damage was wrought. While the brunt of the storm thankfully bi-passed Haiti, it rained heavily for four days straight. In a country home to severe deforestation and minimal water management capacity, the flooding was severe. So severe in fact that widespread loss of crops and livestock has been reported throughout the country. In the South, farmers lost nearly 70% of their crops. For impoverished farmers who depend on agriculture for subsistence, this has been devastating news.
In response, the Lambi Fund of Haiti has been working with community organizations throughout the country since the storm. So far, 13 grassroots organizations have been identified that qualify for emergency relief grants. These grants will go straight to Haitians hit by the storm to help:
Organizations will also prepare soil for planting, repair irrigation canals as necessary and purchase seeds that do not require a long time to harvest (such as beans, vegetables and corn). Groups with animal husbandry projects will also be provided with the requisite funding to replace livestock that were lost in the storm.
Lambi Fund’s field monitors have also been in contact with over 50 other community organizations that may qualify for similar emergency relief. These groups will be provided with the resources necessary to get back on their feet as well.
Obviously, a natural disaster like this is an unforeseen expense that we at Lambi Fund are working as hard as possible to meet. Hopefully through continued support from people like you, we can help curb the impending food crisis as much as possible and keep impoverished Haitians’ incomes flowing.
Day in and day out, Haitians throughout the countryside are working to strengthen economies and expand local food production in their communities. These efforts are innovative and lively efforts to build communities that are self-sufficient and productive. One organization that is lighting a spark in their region is The Youth Association of Sel (AJS). The 255 youth members are working in partnership with the Lambi Fund of Haiti, to build a grain storage facility and launch a community credit fund. The grain silo they are building will store surplus grains and seeds for use in times of need – droughts, natural disasters and in between growing seasons. The storage facility will also be a place to store Haitian Creole seeds. With this silo, AJS members are working to increase access to high quality, local seeds that they can share and sell to one another at an affordable rate. Just as importantly, the food storage aspect of the facility is working to create a safety net for the community – making food and grains available when its needed most.
In order to successfully manage and operate the storage facility and community credit fund, members of AJS attended workshops administered by Lambi Fund teaching them grain storage management and operation, bookkeeping, the issuing of loans and how to manage a community credit fund.
To date, 50 low-interest loans have been issued to members who are using the funds to purchase more seeds, tools and organic fertilizers for growing more peanuts, peas and corn in the area. One recipient noted that investments from the loan allowed him to cultivate 25% more land. Each repayment schedule has been paid on time - and since AJS manages the credit fund and interest earnings stay within the community, the fund is growing. In fact, AJS members are planning to issue an additional 19 loans this fall to farmers in preparation for the upcoming planting season. The silo is currently under construction and committees have been formed that will be responsible for managing the food storage unit and distributing the grains and seeds in an equitable manner.
Thanks to your steadfast support innovative projects like this are cropping up throughout Haiti and changing communities.
Lambi Fund recently approved the launch of eight new projects that are helping move rural communities in Haiti along the long path towards recovery.
One of these new projects is a partnership with members of SADN to launch an ox-plow service. Lambi Fund will be working with this rural grassroots organization in Haiti to fund the purchase of oxen, plows, tools, and to provide the training necessary to operate an ox-plow service. The exciting thing about this project is that members in SADN's community will now have an easy and affordable way to plow their fields. Currently, farmers in the area cultivate their crops by hand. This back-breaking work is extremely time consuming and many farmers do not manage to plow their fields in time for planting season.
This ox-plow service will plow fields in mere minutes: freeing up the farmer's time to work on other tasks and to plant and cultivate even more land. Ultimately, more food will be grown and farmers will have more of their harvests to sell in the local market. This means the entire community wins!
Lambi Fund is working with the Youth Association of Sel (AJS) to help launch a community credit fund and grain storage facility. While this project is just in its preliminary stages, the impending impacts on the community are exciting. Our field monitors have been working hand-in-hand with AJS members to build organizational capacity and to provide them with the training necessary to manage a community credit fund, do bookkeeping and to manage a grain storage facility. As these workshops take place, young Haitians are gaining valuable skills in project and financial management that will not only enable them to make this project a success but to apply these skills to other areas in their lives. Once everything is up and running, the community credit fund will allow farmers access to affordable loans that will allow them to purchase more seeds, tools and supplies so that their crops produce more while the grain storage facility will provide AJS with the ability to purchase, store and sell affordable seeds.
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